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On to next year

After winning seven-consecutive state championships, the Cowgirls are still hungry for more

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Hannah Troutman blasts a ball off the top of the net in a match against Estacada earlier this year. Troutman was named to the state all-tournament first team as well as the IMC hybrid and Special District I all-star teams.

After winning a state championship, it would be understandable if a team were to rest on its laurels.
   However, with the Crook County Cowgirls, there is no danger of that. Immediately after winning their seventh-consecutive state championship, outside hitter Hannah Troutman walked up to head coach Rosie Honl and said, “Eight is great.”
   The phrase has caught on, and is already the motto for next year’s volleyball team.
   “Say goodbye to the seniors,” Honl said shortly after the team’s awards dessert. “We will miss them horribly and I wish them all the best of luck.”
   Then she smiled, and said, “Eight’s great.”
   This year, the Cowgirls were led by the one-two punch of Troutman and middle blocker Makayla Lindburg.
   Lindburg, who recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at the University of Portland, is one of three players that the Cowgirls lose to graduation.
   She has started four consecutive years for the Cowgirls. In that time, Crook County has not lost a league title, and they have been dominant at the state tournament. Lindburg was named class 4A player of the year each of the last two seasons, and was player of the match during this year’s title match against Astoria.
   Lindburg led the Cowgirls in kills with 477 in just 894 attempts. Even more impressive was that she made just 80 errors in spite of frequently being double, or even triple blocked.
   Troutman was nearly as impressive. The junior finished with 420 kills in 857 attempts while committing only 117 errors. Troutman also led the Cowgirls in digs with 377 while Lindburg was second with 276.
   However, the Cowgirls were not just a two-player team.
   Senior Ali Apperson led the team in serving percentage, converting on 98 percent of her serves. Apperson also played solid defense all season.
   Fellow senior Annie Fraser played consistent all year, and came up big from the service line in the championship match, going 22-22.
   Although the seniors will be missed, Honl was quick to point out that several other players also contributed significantly this year and should be even better next year.
   Laken Berlin made nearly 97 percent of her serves and contributed defensively with 66 digs.
   Middle blocker Karlee Hollis made huge strides during the season and finished with 163 kills in 380 attempts. Hollis was also a deadly server, and became an effective blocker late in the year.
   Also making major strides during the season were outside hitter Kathryn Kaonis and setter Kayla Hamilton.
   “Hamilton was our most improved player,” Honl said. “Hollis did a really nice job in the championship match and Kathryn has become a solid player.”
   Honl also expects Elsa Harris, Samantha Kaonis, and Cheyenne Camara to be improved by next season.
   She added that she has never had a team that was as mindful or improved as much as this year’s team.
   The team started the season with eight goals. They wanted to go undefeated in the Summit Jamboree at the start of the season, go undefeated in the Intermountain Hybrid Conference, and go undefeated in Special District I. They also planned on winning each of their minor tournaments as well as placing first or second in each of their major tournaments, and of course, win the state tournament.
   “I didn’t think we would take league or come in first or second in those tournaments,” Honl said. “To be honest, I was just hoping to make it to the gold bracket. Now I think we can do it again. Troutman hates to lose and with Kaonis, Hollis, and Hamilton improving I don’t see why not.”
   Instead, the team made seven of their eight goals. They finished second at the Kent Invitational, and second at the West Linn Invitational. The only goal they missed was at the Clearwater Tournament in Bend, where they lost in the quarterfinals.
   Honl added that not only was this year’s team successful, they were fun to coach.
   “The last few years have just been incredible,”?she said. “I didn’t think that this year could match that, but I think they topped it. They are just great kids.”